WIBBLE: A feeling of insecurity, typically temporary or fleeting, when seeing a partner being affectionate with someone else. Contrast compersion, frubble. Usage: Primarily British; less common outside the United Kingdom.
My girlfriend was out of reach all day long. She’d been gone all day and hadn’t reached out to me once. This wasn’t typical. On top of that, she was in Paris.
When she finally got back in touch, it was near midnight, Paris time.
“Is everything okay, love?”
“Yeah, this French boy gave me a ride to Marseilles. But it was totally innocuous. There was no wi-fi, so I couldn’t reach out to you .”
Something didn’t exactly jive right.
“Okay. I love you. I was getting a bit concerned. Is there anything else you want to tell me?”
“There were kisses. But they were obligatory. After all, he did drive me an hour both ways.”
“I didn’t know if obligatory kisses were something I needed to tell you about.”
That’s when the wibbles hit me. And the feelings of distrust. If they had just gone to Marseille, why was she getting back past midnight? Where they doing other stuff besides kissing? My imagination was running wild.
“Thank you for telling me, my love. I’m happy that you felt comfortable being open with me.”
I’m polyamorous. She’s not. She’s had very little experience being polyamorous. And despite our being madly in love, we had been dating barely two months.
I had other partners. And I didn’t actually mind it if she hooked up with someone while she was in Paris. For fuck’s sake, I’d watched my wife, my submissive wife, give other men head in front of me! I’d watch other women make her squirt. Why was I getting so freaked out about a couple of kisses?
Well, I’d been in control of my wife in both those instances. If I’d said ‘stop,’ she would have stopped. Control made up some of the difference.
My girlfriend had been hesitant to disclose the kiss. Maybe it had been more than that, and she was too afraid to tell me. Maybe she was afraid I would break up with her if she did.
Lack of control. Fear of the unknown. Mistrust. Fear. Fear of what? I didn’t know.
But it was beyond mere wibbles. It was jealousy. One myth about polyamory is that Poly people don’t get jealous. We absolutely do. But the best of us realize that we have to take responsibility for our wibbles and our jealousy, and to find good ways to process it.
It was my job, in this situation, to be the best version of myself. To be awesome. I should be as trusting, compassionate, and loving as I could possible be.
So I told her that I loved her. I told her, next time, I’d like to know before she runs off with a boy on a crazy adventure. I clarified, I wasn’t angry, I’d just like to know beforehand. But I loved her, and everything was okay.
“You’re still my girl. This changes none of that. And you can say anything to me.”
In that moment, that was the best version of myself. I’d curbed my wibbles and/or jealousy. I’d made very clear that I always wanted her to feel comfortable being open and honest. I reassured her that I cared about her.
Emotional restraint. Clear communication. Reassurance. These were essential poly skills.
I’d learned these skills from my wonderful wife.
The next section isn’t written by me. It’s written by her: my wife. The woman I’ve been with 11 years. And who has taught me what it means to be an amazing polyamorous partner, and gave me advice on how she deals with her wibbles.
Dealing with Wibbles
by Mrs. Darko, Dommie’s Wife
The unknown is always worse. Always. But planning ahead is never perfect. So what do I do?
I remember that you love love me, and that you don’t intend to hurt me. I remember that wobbles happen. That they’re okay.
I distract myself. I stop and breathe and try to separate the rational things I’m thinking from the irrational. I create space for myself to think and process before trying to communicate with you.
I take responsibility for my wibbles. I accept them and examine them to see if there’s some way one or both of us could be doing something differently, or if they’re just garden-variety wobbles and I need to go do something by myself until they pass.
The wibbles get way worse if you and I haven’t been getting that much time together. So I try to plan in special times for us, too. If we’re getting along, if I feel secure in our relationship, and if we’ve been spending quality time together. I can get less wibbly and can more easily tolerate things like surprise scheduling and late check-ins. Which isn’t to say they’re okay, but they’re less emotionally awful.
And I understand. Shit happens.
Reading all this, I wonder why anyone, especially Mrs. Darko, puts up with a polyamorous relationship model.
The answer, as clichéd as it might seem, is … love. We polyamorous folk go through this because we don’t want to limit our capacity to love. And because it’s worth it. If anything is worth such ridiculous emotional gymnastics, love is.